Photo courtesy of Bruce McElmurray
Much has been written on ‘how to’ start and maintain a homestead but I have found little on how to keep on going when things pile up and it gets tough going. Many people have grandiose ideas about homesteading but after a while when the reality of all the hard work bears down on them, the dream gets tarnished when the going gets tough.
Getting A Backlog:
Homesteading takes tremendous dedication, organizational skills and a strong work ethic. There is always something that needs attention and pretty quickly things can unravel as you move from one project to another. Getting bogged down in one task can leave others undone. Next thing we know there is a backlog of things needing to be done and the homesteader is overwhelmed.
Lessons That Carry Over In Life:
I associate homesteading with when I used to lift weights. Most of my life I have lifted weights and I see a parallel between some things I learned when lifting weights and homesteading. When doing the bench press for example, you have substantial weight balanced over you and that last repetition just won’t go up to full extension. You have reached what is referred to as a ‘sticking point.' No matter how hard you push, that weight just won’t go up. There you lay with that weight teetering over you and it won’t move upward.
Having A Spotter In A Time Of Need:
That is where your spotter steps in to help. The spotter puts his hands under the bar and you assume he/she is helping you lift. Laying flat on the bench, you can’t actually see if they are lifting or not when in reality their hands under the bar are only a facade. They aren’t lifting but you can’t tell that because it appears they are getting you over the sticking point. You then push the weight up with strength you didn’t know you possessed. Your brain, which previously told you there was no way that weight was going up, allows the weight to suddenly go up exclusively from your effort. Your spotter has deceived your brain and the “can’t do” suddenly is “accomplished."
Photo by Bruce McElmurray
You May Be Capable Of More Than You Realize:
The first time I experienced this I couldn’t believe my spotter had not done any heavy lifting to get that weight back in the rack. I have seen it repeated many times and have done it myself as a spotter. I thought he was helping lift when in actuality he was only using minimal pressure. I ended up pushing the weight up beyond what I thought was within my ability. It is the same for a troubled and overwhelmed homesteader. A spotter can be a friend/family member or neighbor, someone who may have a more objective view of your situation based upon their experience and common sense.
Stubbornness Can Substitute But A Spotter Is Better:
A mindset of determination can, in some people, be a worthy substitute for a spotter. Sometimes you just have to put forth more effort and take that next step forward to do what you previously thought impossible.
No Homesteader Is Immune:
Any homesteader can go from exciting to overwhelmed before you even realize it. As you look around the homestead you see so many projects that may need doing and you reach your sticking point. Where to start? Which one should be first etc? You end up being so overwhelmed that you end up doing nothing and everything spirals further out of control. What earlier enamored you to homesteading suddenly becomes an overwhelming and hopeless pit. The inclination to give up creeps into your thinking and you contemplate just starting over somewhere else.
If You Need Help - Seek Help:
Under those circumstances it is no disgrace to admit you need help and to reach out to a friend, neighbor or family member to help you get past the sticking point. It is unrealistic to ask them to do all the work, but to help you organize your thoughts and get you back on the right path and to work past your sticking point. After all, it is your homestead and hence your responsibility but help is welcome.
Can A Homestead Be Restored In A Week - Yes It Can:
This principle can best be demonstrated in a popular television show where a father, his daughter and son go to homesteads in trouble and spend one week helping them to get back on track. Once restored to a more normal homestead, the people can move forward once again to fulfill their dream. The family does some jobs that will help the homesteader carry on and restore the homestead. When they leave, the homesteader sees a path to the future and is focused on a direction to success.
Helping One Another:
Sometimes it only takes another perspective to get the troubled homestead back on a forward moving path. Homesteading is a unique lifestyle and those who engage in it are equally unique and special. It often takes working together and sharing knowledge and experience to make it a success. I am fairly certain that many experienced homesteaders would agree that when you look around the homestead you always see things that need to be done. The question therefore is what priority should they be given?
Seniors Work More Slowly - Factor Into Prioritization:
Being able to prioritize is a valuable asset on any homestead. Some things should be placed above others. The older I get the more I realize the importance of having a priority list of ‘to do’ tasks. As a senior I realize being able to have a priority list is vital in keeping the homestead functioning smoothly. No longer am I able to work as fast as I once did so making sure I have a priority list is doubly important.
Any homestead can get into trouble whether it is a fledgling or established homestead. There are natural occurrences that can throw it off track and being able to prioritize tasks to keep it on balance is essential. Sometimes it may take a new perspective from others to help keep the dream alive.
Bruce and Carol live in the mountains in S. Colorado with their canine family and take measures to protect them from the wild predators that are around. They lead a somewhat different lifestyle and for more on them and their canine family visit their blog site. You can read all of Bruce's Mother Earth news posts here.
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